A few days ago I told my partner that we should invest in crypto. Despite being someone who invests actively in mutual funds and the stock market, he replied, "Why do you want to invest in something that's highly volatile, uncertain and most importantly unregulated?"
I said,"We should give it a try because the entire world is doing it." Yes, the entire world.
If estimates are to be believed, currently there are around 300 million crypto users worldwide. This number is only growing because there were around 106 million crypto users in the world until January 2021.
India alone has around 1.5-2 crore crypto users. Reports suggest that the crypto industry in India is seeing over 100% month-on-month growth.
Mostly, it's the young and well-informed generation of India that's flocking to the crypto exchanges after the Supreme Court overturned the RBI's ban on cryptocurrencies in March, last year.
As put by Ashish Singhal, co-founder and CEO, CoinSwitch Kuber:
The average age of a crypto investor is about 24. It is a very young demography. And for more than 65% of our users, crypto is the first asset class that they are investing in besides having a bank fixed deposit.
But what is it about crypto that has this generation hooked?
Low investments can yield high returns - Crytpo exchanges allow users to invest an amount as small as ₹100-500, with returns as high as 30-1000%. A 19-year old medical student from Punjab earned 1000% returns on his crypto investments. He spoke to Quartz India about it:
Bank deposits hardly give us 5% in a year. I made sure my parents believed in cryptocurrency via small initial investments. Obviously, they’re liking the gains.
Crypto investment gains are 10000x % compared to any bank or stock market. You would be stupid not to invest!— Mark Vandenhoff (@MarkVandenhoff) November 7, 2021
Who doesn't like such profits? It's because of instances and experiences like these that crypto investments are going beyond millennials and Gen-Z. Data from various crypto exchanges suggests that those aged over 45 are the latest entrants to the world of crypto.
There’s something called 'attraction marketing'. People who reveal their earnings through crypto investments are attracting more people.
20-year-olds are now convincing their parents and others to invest in crypto and our tech-savvy elderly population finds it easy to get started unlike other traditional investment options.
Convinced my parents, who are extremely conservative and worked in banks most of their lifes, to invest some of their portfolio on crypto.— Yggy (@JackOAElements) October 29, 2021
Has it become an obsession for many of us?
Finn Breton, professor of science and technology at the University of California Davis and author of Digital Cash: The Unknown History of the Anarchists, Utopians, and Technologists Who Created Cryptocurrency explains the culture around Bitcoin as a part of appeal. According to him people who buy crypto view themselves as radicals or opposing the existing culture.
The above explanation makes more sense when you see the number of crypto investors in India increasing exponentially despite no clarity on the government's stand.
If we are talking of obsession, we have to talk of gold. From the moment humans first saw gold, the shiny yellow metal has got people obsessed across continents and countries. In India, particularly, the obsession has turned into a strong informal system of exchange where gold can be rapidly turned into cash, especially in times of emergency.
Billionaire Ray Dalio once said that Bitcoin is like "digital gold". I would not go into discussing if it's a fair comparison or not, but it's worth asking, "Is our obsession for crypto fuelled by this thought?"
When the US started printing more currency notes to inject into the economy during the pandemic, the investors anticipated an increase in inflation in the US and as a result, Bitcoin prices hit a historic 250% high at the end of 2020. It is very much possible that people who bought Bitcoin at this time view it as gold or property.
The craze for crypto is such that one tweet (just 280 characters) by Elon Musk will shoot up the prices significantly and another tweet will result in a significant drop.
If Elon Musk has an impact on the price movement of crypto, popular celebrities endorsing it in advertisements feeds into its popularity.
While we do not know if any of them have invested in crytpo, their presence in the ads made an impact good enough.
A report by the Economic Times suggests that Indian cryptocurrency exchanges collectively spent more than ₹50 crore during the recently concluded ICC T20 World Cup.
The crypto ads during the T20 World Cup really has woken up the public and govt. The govt and not the public will end up doing something stupid.— Arjun Soman (@niveshkaarjun) November 14, 2021
I will say follow the US in regulations. If India makes it illegal, it'll push us back in this tech just when #web3 is taking shape.
I am sure the next time we are glued to our TV screens and another ad on crypto plays, I'm going to do the convincing once again.
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Disclaimer: It should be noted that we are not guaranteeing any returns or offering financial advice of any kind. We suggest you to do your own research before making any investments.
In association with CoinSwitch Kuber.